Situated on the border between Karnataka and Goa, stands one of the tallest waterfalls in India – The Dudhsagar waterfalls. When I heard about the trek to Dudhsagar falls, I wasn’t very fascinated. I am not very fond of waterfalls, and the trek seemed to be a walk along the railway tracks. Neither of the two was quite appealing. Then I checked the photos. The massive white milky water gushing down through a lush green forest, with a train running in the foreground instantly stoked my wanderlust. I had to see this place, and I called Mumbai Travelers to book a trek to Dudhsagar waterfalls on the weekend. They told me that the batch was full. However, there were cancellations later in the week, so they called me up on Friday for the batch leaving on Saturday. I was happy and waited in anticipation to experience the enigma of the waterfalls.
We met our group of travelers at Pune station to catch the Goa Express departing from Pune at 4:20 pm. I reached the station, met the group, and we waited. The train was delayed by 90 minutes. It showed up, finally, at 6 pm. In the meantime, we chatted among ourselves and got to know each other better. The majority of us were solo on this trip. Once on the train, we all got comfortable in our seats. Everyone merged inside a single coupe, and we were off to playing Mafia. It was fun. After dinner, the games continued and we closed up at around 11 pm to hit the bed.
The route, to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, starts from Castle Rock station. Once you alight at the station, the trek is nearly 14 Kms along the railway tracks until Dudhsagar station. Since August 2015, the Indian Railways has strictly prohibited walking along the railway tracks due to an incident of unruly crowd resorting to stone pelting, climbing on the Train Engine and endangering the safety of other passengers on the train . We were among the first groups arriving for the Dudhsagar trek, after the restrictions imposed by the Railways. Hence we were not quite sure what to expect when we reached Castle Rock.
Our train reached the Castle Rock station at 4 am in the morning. Railway Police stationed at the Castle Rock station did not allow any trekkers to get down on the station. Our plan was to get down at a technical halt close to Dudhsagar Waterfalls. Braganza Ghat section that begins after the Castle Rock station comprises of 9 tunnels until Dudhsagar Falls. We counted off the tunnels, and after we passed the seventh tunnel, the train came to a technical halt for a minute or so. All the trekkers in the train and there were over 200 of us, got off at this point. The train left. We walked in pitch black darkness amidst a sea of torch lights. The first tunnel that we passed seemed scary to enter, but with so many people around, it was fun to walk through it. Then we reached the second tunnel, and as it came to an end we were greeted with a roar as loud as that of a jet engine. At the end of the tunnel, stood the Dudhsagar waterfalls, in all its magnificent glory covered in fog and darkness.
Soon, the morning sun rays moved the fog gently away to give us a clearer view of the falls. Photographs of the waterfalls, do not do justice to the experience of standing in front of Dudhsagar Falls. The spray from the falls drenched me instantly. We were standing on the railway bridge in front of the falls, where the iconic photo of Dudhsagar waterfalls is taken. I could not take my eyes off the falls even for a moment. Monsoon is the best time to visit the falls. The milky white water gushes down the rocks with a terrifying force. The mist that rises up from the falls, creates a rainbow in the shining sun.
Near the waterfalls, there is a concrete patch used for camping tents. We gathered there to have our morning breakfast. However, the monkeys at this place gave us a tough time. They literally forced food out of our hands, and I lost an apple and a packet of biscuits to the monkeys. On the positive side, the monkeys were not aggressive or violent.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary
After the falls, the remainder of the trek passed through the jungle – Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife sanctuary. Entering the sanctuary requires a permit which can be availed at a minimal cost at the entry point. A local guide is mandatory to enter the jungle. The sanctuary is particularly known for Leopards, Bisons, Elephants, and Deer – Sambar, Chital and Spotted deer. However, it is unlikely that you will spot any wildlife on the jungle trek, at least we did not find any. Nonetheless, the jungle itself is immensely beautiful and a pleasure for the senses. Along the way, we passed through many small and big streams overflowing with water due to monsoon. We got wet, and fooled around in quite a few of the streams, it was awesome fun.
The Jungle trek lasts for around 3 hours. During the last phase of the trek, we crossed again over railway tracks. This is due to the fact that there is a river crossing along the way and in monsoon, it is impossible to cross this river on foot. However, if you visit Dudhsagar falls after September, then you can easily cross the river, and continue along the jungle trail instead of the rocks.
Finally, we reached the Kulem station at around 1 pm in the afternoon, bringing our wonderful jungle trek to an end. We cleaned up, had lunch, and relaxed a bit before catching the Goa Express from Kulem at 4:35 pm back to Pune.